Hunter Mountain Engagement Photographers: Steph & Ryan

A mountain, cabin and two incredible skiers who are head over heels in love…

This was one of the most epic moments in my career thus far!!! After ascending a 3000+ foot mountain and an amazing stay at Scribners (thanks, Steph & Ryan!) I was greeted by an adorable, enthusiastic couple who thought of everything, even snow chains for my boots. We ventured all over the mountain, but for me this was the real highlight–

As I dangled 50 feet above the ground perched on a ski lift with snow and wind blowing in my face, I twisted backwards trying to focus my lens over my shoulder and adjust my camera settings with numbing fingers. That is when I saw Steph and Ryan appear from a cloud of snow and into view descending a double black diamond together.

I couldn’t have felt more alive or been more grateful to be there in that moment– just incredible!!!

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Steph shared, “A friend of mine hired you as their wedding photographer, once your photos came out I found myself going back to the album all the time. I started following you on all of your social media outlets and your blog. I started showing everyone your photos, and it became very clear that I wanted you to be my photographer. Each wedding looks different and feels different! You could see who the couples were in each photo and that was what I wanted. I wanted people to understand Ryan and I through these pictures.”

She continued, “When we talked about the engagement shoot I was so excited to hear that your vision and our vision were so closely matched. I was really excited that you were open to trying to get us skiing down the mountain! Ryan was the person who taught me to ski, and being able to capture that was amazing. On the day of the shoot I was nervous it was going to be awkward. Especially since we had not met in person yet. I think it took both Ryan and I by surprise how comfortable we were. We felt very connected to you, very on the same page, and I think that made a world of difference.”

I knew how important Hunter Mountain was to these two as it was where their relationship began, where they had their first date and continue to spend their free time 6 months of the year.  I wanted to capture Hunter Mountain, and beyond that I wanted to capture their adventurous, up-beat personalities– these two are always laughing…

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The entire afternoon was spent exploring pieces of their past and present together– from re-visiting the cabin where they first met to stopping by the zipline from their first date, skiing and even exploring some new places like the scene below.

In this image I focused on the icicles and gave Steph & Ryan some privacy, hehe…

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Steph shared, “Ryan and I are the same but opposite. He is the ying to my yang. Where I am a planner and a Type-A to a fault, he is so much more go with the flow and a Type-B. But that being said we both share the same sense of humor and adventure. For the most part we are down to do anything… even if the other needs a little push. He is the person I trust the most. So when he tells me that it is going to be ok, I know it will be ok.”

I think this photo really captures that trusting, aspect of their relationship so well.  She is literally leaning on him and you can see how proud he is to have her by his side.

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Steph shared, “On the day of the shoot I was nervous it was going to be awkward. Especially since we had not met in person yet. I think it took both Ryan and I by surprise how comfortable we were. It could have been the cold or the chains on our shoes – but we felt very connected to you, which made a world of difference.”

I totally felt connected to them, too.  I understood and appreciated who they were and could tell that they trusted me fully.  We were able to capture so much during the session and a lot had to do with them diving in; it allowed me to really be in my element and go for it, capturing incredible, authentic images for them to have for years to come.

You can see that they are genuinely happy here, not just posing for the camera…

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I have several different camera lenses (here is a link in ShotKit about my gear) and switch between them throughout the day.  I used a very wide lens to capture the full scene here– the mountains the forest, the snow, the road into Hunter...

I wanted them to appear small in this photo to really place the emphasis on the surroundings.  I like their body language, too.  It suggests trust, support and partnership…

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Steph shared, “For our wardrobe – we had no idea what to wear. Thank goodness you gave us suggestions because that really helped. We wore fitted, neutral items with a few pops of color that would stand out against the winter backdrop.”  Their wardrobe really gives you a feel for the type of natural, authentic people they are while also giving it the shoot a cozy, winter feel.

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Steph was not a skier until she met Ryan.  He literally taught her how to ski starting her out at the bunny slopes until now, when they are skiing double black diamonds together!!!

I like this photo of Ryan leading Steph, I think it really shows that aspect of their relationship well, and just how much pleasure he takes in showing her new things…

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While I love catching couples in the moment: walking together, peering out over beautiful scenery, etc.  It is also important for me to capture traditional portraiture as well.  I really like giving my clients an eclectic mix.

I love color and really like how you can see the green trees, purple mountain and white birch in the background of this next portrait…

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Next we headed to the cabin where Steph and Ryan met.  We scheduled this in between the two outdoor portions of the shoot which gave us some time to de-frost.

I wanted them to be in the foreground and sort of mysterious-sexy haha with the mountain in the back ground b/c it really tells their story well.  More on that soon…

You can see Hunter Mountain in the distance and even the ski slopes.  

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Steph shared, “We met one random winter night at Hunter Mountain. I was invited to go with a group of like 30 people to this cabin, but I was really apprehensive about going because I wasn’t a fan of the cold and I only knew one person there really well. When I arrived at the Hunter House I was ushered down into the basement where my friend was still getting ready for the night.”

Enters Ryan, haha– “Almost as soon as I got downstairs Ryan came out of the shower in a towel!!!” I thought this photo was the best fit for the towel story, their expressions are adorable…

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She continued,”Other than thinking that Ryan was pretty cute – I didn’t think that we would really be talking much. I was 100% wrong!”

“Eventually we got to talking and just kept talking (mainly about Forgetting Sarah Marshall). We ended up being pretty inseparable the rest of the night. As I went to leave, Ryan asked me for my number.”

“Now there has not been a single day that has gone by that we haven’t spoken to each other. ”

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I saw this painting on the wall in the cabin and thought it would be a cool way to inc operate “Hunter” mountain.  Here they are in the reflection in the glass…
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After warming up a bit we went back outside to trek to the spot where they had their first date…  again I love how these colors pop against the bright white snow!

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Steph explained, “Our first date was on this zip line.  Even though I was scared (it is the longest and highest in North America) Ryan made me brave.  We stood in line right here!”

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Steph ended up getting stuck in the middle of the zipline dangling high up in the air, overwhelmed, she started crying.  Ryan calmed her down which she assured me was no easy task, haha.

She continued, “even though I cried, he helped me find the humor in it. He was the person who got me down the mountain when I crashed riding my snowboard (literally the first and last time I will ever get on one of those things). It is because of this that I am so excited to see what else Ryan will teach me throughout our lives together.”

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I like the pattern and texture created by the driving snow against Steph and Ryan in this next photo– it really stands out against her dark coat.

I think that you really get a feel of how well they compliment each other here and almost get a sense of them being happy anywhere and being able to take on the world!

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For our third and final challenge we ascended the (super fast) ski lift.  Here I silhouetted Stephanie & Ryan against a particularly bright cloud.  I like the leading lines and vibrant blue sky.

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Ryan shared, “Steph makes everything fun!  It doesn’t matter what we do, even something tedious, and it ends up being a good time!”

Haaaaa here are their reflections in Steph’s pink ski goggle, I thought this was fun…

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The lighting was intense and epic, I spotted it from the lift and knew just the angle that I wanted to get.  I tried to explain where I’d like to get them and Steph was like, “Look we’ll try for that but honestly I’m just gonna try not to fall, haha!”  We decided to go for it.  The timing had to be just right, we formulated a plan on the lift up.

I waited at the top of the slope with a guide from Hunter.  As they skied part-way down the hill and pulled off where the cool lighting started.  They called me when they got to the spot and I answered their call via apple-watch, I felt like James Bond, it was awesome, haha!  I hopped back on the lift and everything clicked.

It was magical…

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Steph shared, “It is weird to think that this all began 6 years ago and that we still come up to Hunter because it is this little piece of us will always be here. We spend 6 months renting a house and each year it is this little celebration of what was created that random night in December. What makes it even more great is that the friends that were there when it all started, are still the ones that we spend our winter with. If anything our group has grown. And it is nice that we can share this thing that is so special with the mountains and the people that that have been there since the beginning.”  Most of all, Ryan 😉

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Thank so much for including me in this epic Hunter Mountain experience– I loved capturing these moments for you and can’t wait for your wedding day!!!

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